ArtView January 2016 - Page 52

Fashion Statement: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki Interview by Simone Corletto for ArtView January 2016 Have you always had a distinctive approach to fashion? Ah, yeah. I think it began in kindergarten, when I was a little woggy kid in Australia, thinking, gee, it's hot here in Australia. Then I thought, if I’m wearing shoes all the time, I sweat, an awful lot, and if you wear sandals your feet slip around, and you get sweaty that way. But if you wear socks and sandals, you minimise the sweat and you get comfort. So in kindergarten, I thought, what a wonderful, functional thing. I was entirely alone on that. My idiosyncratic fashion style continued and still continues today. Is the way you look and dress important to you? It’s part of who we are. Neanderthals, forty five thousand years ago had fashion as part of their identity and what they were and who made them; they were adorning themselves forty five thousand years ago. We humans have been making jewellery for thousands of years, tens of thousands of years. How we present ourselves to the world is an important part of our lives, it’s who we are. In fact, clothing is one of the very first technologies that we worked in. At some stage along the evolutionary path we had a choice of having either more or less hair on our bodies. Having more hair on our bodies meant that protein that was meant to be for the hair couldn’t go into our brains, and we’d never have our big brains. So the evolutionary decision was to have less hair and more brains – but less hair means that you then have to invent clothing, to insulate yourself from the environment, which is what we did. Do you think that this kind of inclination for changing our physical appearance, perhaps a reason we find it appealing, is similar to how in the animal world, for example, the prettiest peacock gets the mate... how animals have these amazing colour patterns and it's all for attracting potential breeding opportunities... Ahh, I’m guessing from that question you didn’t read my 28th book about how it’s not the peacock with the biggest feathers that gets the mate? Ah no, I did not, I’m sorry (nervous laugh). No, no, it’s one of the many myths in our society that people wrongly believe. But yeah, fashion is part of the mating thing. I was singularly unsuccessful in my entire working career, at school and university in getting to have sex with anybody at all, no matter how I dressed. I just gave up! Are you aiming to make a statement by the way you dress? Yes, of course you do! Everybody does. To some degree, women more than men, on average, but you’re making a statement of: “this is who I am, this is how I feel, this is how I exist in this world which is around me.” Not just me as an empty identity, I’m also me: the person who dresses like this. By dressing like this I’m making a statement of how